The Young Lady in Pink. New Light on the Life and Afterlife of an Ancient Portrait


  • Jan M. van Daal Utrecht University, Art History, Department of History and Art image/svg+xml
  • Branko F. van Oppen de Ruiter Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art, Tampa Museum of Art; former Visiting Research Scholar and Curator, Allard Pierson Museum



mummy portrait, funerary practices, panel painting, antiquity, archaeology, Egypt, Roman Empire, provenance research, collection


A Roman-Egyptian mummy portrait of a young woman in a pink tunic is part of the Allard Pierson collection in Amsterdam. The portrait is well-known and a key piece of the collection, but has received little scholarly attention so far. The life and the afterlife of the portrait are therefore poorly understood. The authors approach the portrait from different perspectives: its provenance and acquisition, the artist’s materials and techniques, the dating conventions surrounding mummy portraits and their cultural context. The authors advocate for this in-depth multidisciplinary approach primarily because it spotlights specific areas in mummy portraits (in this case, the pearl earrings) where iconography, materials and techniques and ancient socio-economic developments converge. Provenance research proved important not only for securing the object’s bona fide acquisition, but also for tracing its second-life biography. These converging perspectives effectively cast light on research areas where more work remains desirable. In lieu of secure documentation of the archaeological findspot (which is the case with most mummy portraits) this approach is a powerful tool to nonetheless compose histories that help to understand the meaning of mummy portraits in the past and in the present and provide a durable framework for future research.

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How to Cite

Daal, Jan M. van, and Branko F. van Oppen de Ruiter. 2022. “The Young Lady in Pink. New Light on the Life and Afterlife of an Ancient Portrait”. Studies in Ancient Art and Civilisation 26 (December):125-62.